A Day at the Tracks

My new favorite activity is taking a new bus route — it can really put you in a different mindset and lead to some story ideas.

And that's how I found the horse track!

On my way to shoot my "Old Love" story last week, I took three busses I had never taken before. Of course, I took three busses because I obviously didn't know the best route there, but quickly figured it out on the way back. And upon returning home, I passed this big track with a big picture of horses outside of it and I knew that I would eventually have to take some pictures there. And I got the opportunity to just days later.

I was worried about my "Day in the Life" story (to be posted last this week), so as a back-up just in case I couldn't get an ample story subject, I wandered down to the betting track to get a snapshot of a day at the tracks.

I really wanted to get some behind-the-scenes look at the horses being prepared for the races, and the jockeys getting ready and such, and this track was just the place for that. I swear, I didn't deal with any security or any bullshit during the day. I just walked into the track, walked back to the stables, and did my thing. It was fantastic.

I had a bit of trouble kind of getting an idea of what would happen during the day. I knew what time the race started, but where did the horses start? How far and how long did they run? How do you know who won? I tried asking around but after having some trouble with the language barrier, I just resolved to head out on the track (since I didn't see anyone that was going to stop me), take some warm-up shots and then just wing it.

This sentiment was echoed today in a chat from a guest lecturer Carsten Ingemann as he was talking with another student about access problems in a story. He said that if you just walk into somewhere with authority and don't ask to take photos, then chances are no one is going to stop you. Of course, you always feel the pressure to be courteous, but what if it's going to make or break your story? With this mindset, Carston told us an anecdote about how he got all the way through 12 security checkpoints during the first Gulf War in Kuwait. So, I guess it works, right?

And so I did. And it worked out pretty well. Honestly, most of my favorite shots, as I predicted, weren't from the races themselves, but back in the stables. One of my favorite moments of the day was chatting with this young boy who I thought was jokingly placing a bet but he was so short the cashier couldn't see him.

The seven year-old, Oliver, was actually placing a bet, though, as I later learned from his parents. Turns out, last week they came to the tracks and the boy was insistent on placing a bet on a particular horse. And they ended up winning 800DKK from the bet (around $90), so they thought they'd try their luck again. I don't know how old you need to be to bet in Denmark, but if there are regulations, they aren't strict!

Although I didn't end up using the shots for my story, I'm glad I went to the track and got to chat with some people there. I think I may even go back just for fun once it gets a bit warmer — it is one of those rare events that happens on a Sunday in Denmark. That's not so common!

I'm slowly adjusting to life here in Denmark. Although it doesn't seem to easy some days, especially with the bus, sometimes the bus seems to want to make it up to me and hands me nice story ideas like this.